RogerBW's Blog

Fox Hunter, Zoë Sharp 13 January 2022

2017 thriller, twelfth in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former soldier and currently private bodyguard. Charlie's in Iraq, on the trail of whoever tortured an ex-soldier to death – because there's a chance it might be her old lover Sean.

This is a book that relies heavily on earlier content from the series. There are mentions that Charlie was raped when she was in the Army, then thrown out after a rigged investigation, so a new reader wouldn't be lost as far as the facts are concerned, but the reasons other people see her the way they do gain emotional resonance from memories of the earlier books.

It's also a book of endings: by the final paragraphs, Charlie's cut her ties with everyone she's been working with for the last few books, tied off the backstory, and ridden away to new adventures. I wonder whether Sharp planned to end the series here; it wouldn't be a terrible note to go out on. But another volume came out two years later, so maybe she just wanted a clean break so that she wouldn't have to keep explaining everything for new readers.

But between the endings and the callbacks there's sometimes not much room for the actual action. What there is is good – in particular the sort of dirty close-quarters fighting that's always been the strongest part of this series, where if anyone could back off far enough to get their gun aimed that might end the fight but the other party isn't going to give them a chance. Sharp knows guns but doesn't infodump about them, which may lose some of the grunty macho audience but sounds a lot more like the professional gun users I've met.

I didn't love it the way I did Die Easy, and I do wish Charlie could be allowed some slight happiness at least between books (apart from anything else, sooner or later the stress ought to get to her), but I'll certainly continue.

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Previous in series: Absence of Light and Other Stories | Series: Charlie Fox

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